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The Golden Team ( ; also known as the Magical Magyars, the Marvellous Magyars, the Magnificent Magyars, or the Mighty Magyars) was the record-breaking and world famous varsity Hungary national football team of the 1950s considered in many opinions to be the greatest national side in international competition. It is praised, among other accomplishments, as the team that re-invented football in the postwar era. With its association to several high profile matches, it took part in four historically significant games of the 20th century, including the "Match of the Century", the "Battle of Berne" and the "Miracle of Berne", and was the first team to defeat the USSR in the Soviet Unionmarker.

The team's brilliant procession from the spring 1950 lasted to the eve of the heroic and ill-fated 1956 Hungarian Revolution. It is credited with directly leading to a kind of a future tense football that opened a new chapter in the game's tactical calculus for positional fluidity, thus rendering contemporary form and style a game of other times. It introduced a powerful revolutionary ground game with its polyvalent quasi-4-2-4 offense and an early version of the famous 360-degree "Total Football" strategy that later the Dutch football scene operated. Hungary's highly successful tactics were adopted, finally perfected and subsumed by succeeding world champion Brazilian teams for the 1958, 1962 and 1970 World Cup editions.

One of the most technically superb teams in history, by ratio of victories per game, tactical renovation, in company with its acclaimed matches, ranks as one of international sport's most dominant forces in the 20th century. As the definitive sports machine from the Eastern Bloc of the time, it was also used a major tool and by Hungarian communist authorities in the propaganda war with the Cold War West, heralding socialist ideals in liberating the genius that lay dormant in the proletariat. Its sporting prominence have been subject of commentary by postwar historians who note its measured influence on central European political and economic climes after one of the most celebrated World Cup competitions in 1954.

The ensemble could call half-a-dozen world-class players within its cast, led by its iconic captain, Ferenc Puskás (84 goals / 85 caps), prodigal goalscorer Sándor Kocsis (75 goals / 68 caps), deep-lying striker Nándor Hidegkuti, swift and buccaneering left winger Zoltán Czibor, great midfield choreographer József Bozsik, who set tenors on both sides of the ball, and a first rater in Gyula Grosics at goal. The incomparable attacking nexus of Puskás-Kocsis-Hidegkuti provided the Magnificent Magyars with 198 goals, Mihály Lantos, József Zakariás and Jenő Buzánszky modelled a solid and oft-outperforming defense.

A view of performances reveal the Magyars' eminent domain on world football's highest landscape. Exempting a controversial 1954 World Cup final match that later this article will cover, Hungary in class-A internationals would see no defeats for 6 years among its 42 victories and 7 draws — that lifts the team into the sphere of the most truly remarkable. Another exceptional quality is excellence in attaining the strongest theoretical power rating ever recorded in the sport's history using the Elo rating system for national teams (2166 points, June 1954). It remains to be seen if this coveted football touchstone can be again reached — but in the abstract and on paper, it can be inferred the 1954 Magical Magyar team could lay title to international soccer's all time power index. Their golden age was an expanse of 50 matches, and the team's essential hard currency was offensive bandwidth, during which years a largesse of 215 goals were produced at the highest plane.

Total Football and Advent of "Playmaker"

The source of the intellectual firepower of the team at the managerial level started with Gusztáv Sebes, who had been a trade union organizer in Budapestmarker and pre-war Parismarker at Renault car factories and thus was accorded a political clean bill of health to run affairs as the Deputy Sports Minister. He knead his socialist credentials to a new formulaic style that caused world soccer to witness "socialist football" in its prime — team game that would brush aside a collection of individuals for six years to set milestones not set before or since. A lasting contribution of considerable importance of the Magyars, in particular, involved the prototype advent of a crucial player that would put the game on a tactical furthering - the deep lying centre-forward. Sebes and his staff were keen to pioneer a new genre of football, a direct genetic prelude to "Total Football" 20 years before the Dutch, where individual roles in strict zonal positions became more undefined.

Into this total sum versatile team solution (where players could shift and interplay different positions), behind Puskás and Kocsis, Sebes laid his most influential centerpiece — a high value player unveiled for a groundbreaking role that caused Hungary to reform the game forever. Nándor Hidegkuti was set as a deep-lying free trading centre-forward behind the twin beam of Puskás and Kocsis, known in football parlance as being "in the hole". This nuance of moving Hidegkuti off the main line put the game on a new course, and introduced into football's lexicon the fluid station called "playmaker". Opposing lines were unsteadied and pulled apart by this dual-purpose player by drawing a natural response and tendency from defenses to leave him unmarked and operate freely in space un-buffeted by not being amid the forwards. With event-driven spontaneity, Hidegkuti provided crashing sorties as ball movement dictated to crumble the center goal area; and unlocked in the No. 9 position a new autonomous revolutionary menacing robust character in football operating on the event horizon between midfield and the rearguards and between creator and goal scorer. Often called the "father of total football", Hidegkuti was a very strong offensive player (39 goals / 69 caps), and it was then this triune partnership of Puskás and Kocsis up front and a force-multiplier in Nidegkuti that opened many doors of attack across inflexible defenses to overwhelm and subordinate all traditional systems.

1952 Olympics

The innovationist Hungarians arrived to the 1952 Summer Olympics to display their strong command of the game in a state of tune as few others had before. In a little over 3 years unbeaten, 15 of their last opponents were belabored by 5.27 goals-per-game. Only one team had defeated them in the preceding 19 matches, while they won 15. Already established was one of the great sides in Europe, exposure of the team to major publicity occasioned by the Olympics gave Hungary a chance for a premier outside the Iron Curtain. The highly entertaining men's soccer tournament quickly proved to be a preview of coming attractions. With a mercurial fleet of goalscoring forwards Puskás, Sándor Kocsis, and super-sub Péter Palotás the team easily progressed through the playoffs at Helsinkimarker in a five game portrayal of offense scoring 20, while their divesting defense gave up only 2.

A highly sought match to see was the semi-final with star-spangled Sweden, the 1948 defending Olympic champions. In a performance highly rated as one of their finest, a Puskás first minute goal lit the becoming of a very emphatic game of every way. Their 6-0 win was of outgoing quality, and their growing list of successes attracted positive notice among the most influential circles in the European football community. In the stands that day was Stanley Rous, secretary general of the English Football Association and future FIFAmarker president who complimented his peers from Hungary with an offer to arrange a game at Wembley Stadiummarker in England. In the championship final, in front of 60,000, the Magyars walked on the field against the world's No. 7 best team, — their neighbors to the south, with whom the Hungarian communist dictatorship on ideological grounds had strained relations and against whom the team was politically instructed not to lose. The 1948 Olympic finalist Josep Tito's Yugoslavian squad had all the makings of an emerging power, and in a game where politics and sport converged, the match against the Yugoslavs was a hard fought one. The defensive duel broken by Puskás in the 70th minute, and Czibor added another at the 88th minute. After their 2-0 victory, the sobriquet "The Golden Team" became immensely popular back in Budapestmarker.

European Championship

During this era, Hungary also involved in the Central European International Cup, a nations cup for teams from Central Europe that was the legal predecessor of the pan-European European championship. Competing national sides included Austria, Czechoslovakia, Italy and Switzerland. The 5th tournament began in 1948, and finished after 5 years in an acclaimed match some have called "The first European Championship final" between Hungary and a powerful two-time World Cup champion Italian team.

Italy was, in many ways, the frontier and nursery for early European continental footballing ideas, and in the 1930s and put together a master class run from 1934 scaling soccer's summit by gaining two World Cups consecutively in 1934 and 1938, distinguished as Europe's only enjoyer of World Cup championship success. Indeed, one of Italy's key contributions to the game had been modelling a highly organized backline that was intended to prevent goals. It was with one of the world's most indurate defensive constructs that underscored their near un-beatability.

Partial to nurturing and perfecting defense, Italian football was virtually the anti-pole to the offense-based polarity of the Hungarians who viewed themselves as natural attackers. Italy's superior capacity for defense is given much credence. Exempting a rare defeat to England in 1948, the Azzurri had not allowed more than 2 goals into their own net in 36 home stands dating from 1934, sporting an excellent unbeaten record. Behind their only defeat since 1934, the Italians furthered their senior defense that no more than 1 goal was put past their famed backline after 1948 in any home match that impress the observer the most. Compounding the seemingly demanding mission of making progress against the two-time world champions, Hungary entered Italy staged to the national inaugural of Romemarker's famous new Stadio Olimpicomarker that appeared to be a very daunting intimidating fortress of grandeur.

After opening ceremonies, on May 17, 1953, 90,000 spectators witnessed a tremendous encounter that offered proper perspective between the embodiment of probably the world's top defensive unit, the world's best frontline and the Magyar's fluid and rhythmic carriage of motion belying artfully crafted guile. The football world would see a irresistible force about to march against the immoveable object — a mere glimpse into the "Match of the Century".

The Italians came out with their reputed defensive superiority as had been known before and the outcome was balanced on a hard compound of defensive ardor that nonplussed early Hungarian forays. But by way the end of the first half, the élan of the Hungarian front gainfully accosting the Azzurri defense began to stylistically solve it by short telling passes from midfield that towed out the main Italian line exposing their rear to rewardingly cast arches vacuumed up by a dodging Puskás and a semi-injured Hidegkuti who had turned his ankle in the first minute. A Hidegkuti goal at 41st minute, and later two strong scores by Puskás in the second half, one a particular strong left-footed line drive from the top of the penalty box, put the game away 3-0.

So irrepressible was Puskás not only to win, that while leading 2-0 late in the game, he exhorted his teammates for continued attacks and keeper Grocsis to give him the ball at every opportunity that even delighted Italian fans who though much of the wonderful soccer they just witnessed. Respectful ovation descended on the Hungarian heroes at the end. Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport queried the stunning developments at the inaugural with high praise added to a native angst: “How is it possible to play against a team that is lining up with seven fuoriclasse (unequals)?”

Hungary emerged top of the table with 11 points, and their great 3-0 victory in Rome was their third major international triumph that signalled their stride from a continental into that of a world power. A match was arranged later that November that had game-changing implications, prevailing upon old insular normative beliefs to inspire soccer theory onward. It would precipitate a re-shaping of new core footballing ideas and displace, for half a generation at least, soccer's center of gravity. To occur was a immense collision between football's great masters;— the Magical Magyars and the lofty creators of the game.

"Match of the Century"

The Englishmarker had invented the modern game in last half of the 19th Century. Its first laws and rules patented by a solicitor by trade Ebenezer Cobb Morley, and soon grew immensely popular across all spectrum of society due to its simple rules and minimal equipment requirements, being globalized as the world's most popular association sport in the last decade of the 19th Century and early 20th Centuries.

Since the codification of football in 1863 in Victorian England, the English national team had never suffered defeat on its home shores from foreign opposition from outside the British Islesmarker, and their successful tradition had been penultimate and globally decisive. The old producers of football had turned aside effort in 90 years to overcome the mightiest team of them all. This proud long reign of invincibility knit to semi-mythology was legendary, embedded into socio-national consciousness and ethos as a redoubt and post to which Englishmen could view with surety and confidence in spite of all forecasts, vissisitudes and the ever-changing times. Gorgeous, wonderful, and victorious English football possessed a feel of unbeatable quality and romantic neo-imperial Victorian inheritance with a direct unbroken connection to the palmiest days of the British Empire.

The British press, in building out the game that lay ahead, galvanized worldwide radio and newsprint audiences naming it the "Match of the Century" - and a visit towards both team's theoretical power, the media's remark of the match taking on world significance as "the world championship decider" - was a very becoming view considering the acme strength of both nations. England was ranked No. 3 in the world with a theoretical power rating of 1943 points, or the No. 2 best team in the Old World (Argentina being ranked No. 2 with 2048 points). Hungary was ranked No. 1 in the world with a theoretical power of 2050* points. The anxiously promising match was ever England's sternest challenge to stem a gathering juggernaut from across the Channelmarker from behind the Iron Curtain that had remained unbeaten for over three and a half years — and in deference to a remarkable tradition, un-trampled power in Europe, and home record England would have its place in the sun again as the highly approved side.

England fielded a squad of considerable and legendary power within a time-tested and patently English tactical package (3-2-2-3 i.e. the WM formation) catalyzed in 1925 at the Arsenal Football Club by Herbert Chapman. It was formed of all the stars of League First Division, some of whom were of world renown and who's reputation were second to none, two of whom would be knighted for exceptional footballing services. These included a world-class football maestro, the ageless Stanley Matthews who supplied much aerial and crossing prowess to set up goals where ever he went, a much feared powerful center-forward in Stan Mortensen who had scored 23 goals in 25 appearances, world famous Alf Ramsey, a superb defender with special spatial awareness and technique, and their very capable center-half captain Billy Wright, the first player in the 20th century to have 100 appearances for a national team. At England's order was a very powerful midfield, a quadrangle of four players, with a high work rate of fetching and carrying the ball up and down the field whom the Hungarians referred to as "the piano-carriers" led by Wright.

This highly successful system mated to a hardy, open, spontaneous and industrial style, its usually high quality personnel, united by a wondrous unmistakable English competitive spirit saw England take on all comers outside the Isles since 1901 and never have the world's finest left England victorious.

On a foggy Wednesday afternoon on November 25 1953, in front of 105,000 in Empire Wembley Stadiummarker and to millions of worldwide listeners and television viewers the "The Magical Magyars" mesmerized, and the tactical mileage and individual skill sets between the world's No. 3 and the world's top team was seen and revealed to everyone immediately. Within the first minute, the whole English defense experienced and fell under ever-changing geometric pressure originating out of midfield. The Magyars' startling attack proved insolvable with a new ground game that made lanes into England's stout stereotypical WM formation and exploited a flaw in their rigid marking system that opened yawning gaps by cleverly drawing defenders out of position. Nándor Hidegkuti could not be subdued, and 45 seconds into the match ran down a center seam, sold a feint thereby freezing the rearguard, diagonally angled inside and sent a rising 15-yard vector into the upper right corner of the net beyond the lunging mitt of goalkeeper Gil Merrick - quickly 1-0. Throughout the game Hidegkuti was un-markable in a starring role as he haunted the English line mixed with befuddling actions of Ferenc Puskás — a man who always seemed to move economically and inexorably towards goal and drive in balls from all possible angles and distances — and the Hungarian line that posed tactical riddles by shifty interchanging their positions almost clairvoyantly on queue.
Hungary's starting tactical template
A well-timed English counter-attack ensued that began in the penalty area, and down field Stan Mortensen released Jackie Sewell who put it past Grosics to restore order 1-1 at 13 minutes. But Nándor Hidegkuti fatefully scored again off a poor clearance; and Ferenc Puskás became the career leader for most international goals via a seven-pass circumnavigation of the English defense, culminating in what some have called the "Goal of the Century". Puskás' famous "drag-back" goal imparted on him football immorality by an improvised maneuver still a mainstay on classic highlight footage. It involved Puskás taking up a position on the right-hand side of the six-yard box after receiving a less than perfect short flat pass from right as Billy Wright barrels down to dispossess the escaping ball that drifts toward the dead-ball line. Puskás reflexively drags back the loose ball with the sole of his boot in the last instant before his tackler arrives leaving the English captain finding empty space with the ball had been de-cleated and flat on his back, Puskás then pivots to find a ray of daylight between the near post and keeper Gill Merrick. A Puskás cannonball between the crook of Merrick's left arm and the near post propelled a 3-1 scoreline. Following soon was another Ferenc Puskás score — a deflected József Bozsik free-kick that burrowed into the net. Within half an hour, the score line was 4-1. Ten minutes of the restart the match's competitive phase had been resolved. A wondrous József Bozsik climbing line drive from top the penalty box, and Hidegkuti — indelibly writing his signature on the game — smashed home a goal off a lob managed to accomplish his famous hat trick — crushed the paleo-tactics in application since 1925 at the whistle 6-3.

The Magical Magyars' performance had been unequivocal that seemed to presage a tactical revision of the game from static models into a versatility-based new age that allowed players maximum freedom of movement and a compelling case of inceptive modern football up against the dated operating system. The match's value for the Magical Magyars' was inestimable as their magnus opus, for soccer itself the panoromic prevision of how the future game would be played stimulated new ideas both within and outside The Continent finding final value with the world champion Brazilian sides of 1958, 1962, 1970, and later a Dutch interpretation of style that vied in gripping matches in the World Cup finals of 1974 and 1978. The famous Wembley game of 1953 was a historical watershed, subject to acres of newsprint, informative scholarship and introspective self-analysis that has taken on a near mythical station in football lore — arguably being the 20th century's the most influential match.

1954 World Cup

Hungarian pennant for the 1954 World Cup.

To a great majority of vantage points, both inside and outside the game, Hungary's mass re-entry into the 1954 World Cup were to be a crowning for consummate achievement. Football world supremacy would be decided after the differentia between Latin America's soccer superpowers and Hungary became known; the Magical Magyars widely appraised by consensus as having the most tactically austute, redoubtable team to perform this portfolio of aims with plenty of talent to match.

The 16 finalists were grouped in fours and only two would see the next round in the quarterfinals. Hungary shared Group B with Turkey, West Germany, and South Korea.

On June 17th 1954 in Zurich, The Magyars opened their campaign against a debutant South Korean team, who were making their first journey to the World Cup finals. In spite of the Korean War's ending the year before, flights commercially out from Korea did not exist, and the Korean players had to endure a tiring six-day odyssey by trail, road, air and sea to arrive to the tournament in Switzerlandmarker that added to their physical unrest. On less than a full day's recovery, the diminutive Koreans walked onto the field Hungary. The tempo and pentameter of the Hungarians' mode of attack was record-breaking. Within twenty minutes, half of the Korean team went down with fatigue and cramps not being able to meet the speed nor the action orientation of the Europeans. Puskás proceeded to score first in the 12th minute to open the floodgates to a pastiche of descriptive goals with Sándor Kocsis adding 3 more en route to a staggering 9-0 win. This is still the modern benchmark for the largest goal differential set in World Cup competition.

Three days later on June 20, 1954, the Magical Magyars went into action against one of their other group opponents, an unseeded and largely unremarkable West Germany squad who were not expected to do much in the competition. West German manager, Sepp Herberger, in a calculation to schedule his team for the best of chances should another match with the Hungarians occur, went with a deliberate under-strength squad to rest many his regulars and wear out the Magyar onslaught. With a view to reconnoiter and have insight into Hungary's strength and on-field formations while keeping his A-team fresh and his plans unexplored, Herberger's decision caused wide criticism back home in Germany to the contrary. Herberger's contention was that Germany could still qualify for the quarter-finals despite a loss.

With crisp fine fettled precision, deft dribbling and colorful passing that would later define Brazilian football's joyous magic for decades, Hungary precipitated themselves against the opposing line and soon glode past bulwarks. To no one's surprise, a heavy programme of soccer assault ensued — the German half was the area where most activity took place, their goal heavily leaned on by a rolling fire and tactical rigor that attacked without interlude. Inside-forward Sándor Kocsis was like a cavalier man possessed, individually crashing through defensive mazes, single-handedly wrecked the German defensive scheme into inchoate jumble. By the end of the game, Kocsis would come away with 4 goals. This match also contains hues of controversy for the objectionable and notoriously aggressive roughness imposed on the Hungarian captain, Puskás. The Hungary FA would later allege three crucial fouls the match's refereeing missed undermined the tournament's officiating, the last being the most damaging. All throughout the game, German defender Werner Liebrich was deputed to mark the indefatigable and spirited Puskás. At the height of the game, with Hungary leading 6-1, Liebrich's challenge was the most debilitating if not fateful tackle of the whole tournament. Puskás was caught by a vicious ankle tackle from behind putting Hungary's principal source of power and purveyor of fortune provisionally out of the tournament with a sorely bruised ankle. The game ended very strong 8-3 for the Magyars, but the injury subtraction of Puskás would throw its competitive future into question.

In Germany, the public view on Sepp Herberger's decision to probe and not play Hungary at full strength caused a backlash with many demanding his resignation for not offering a sterner challenge to the world's best team. Regardless, Herberger's calculation worked as he had planned. Germany defeated Turkey 7-3 three days later in a requisite playoff to ensure passage into the final group of eight.

"Battle of Berne"

Soccer had come relatively early to Brazilmarker, transmitted by the son of a British expatriate -- Charles William Miller -- who had attended the English public school at Southhampton and brought the aristocratic collegian game with him in 1894 to São Paulomarker. Football was a cliquish past time of the British communities in metropolitan areas of Latin America and after the First World War soon found a place in the national life of most South American nations across all segments of society. The game developed very rapidly, and players and coaches took their love and passion very seriously, but it was also an effective tool for social cohesion. In the emporium of world soccer, no nation had qualified to the World Cup as many times as had Brazil, each team increasingly excelling in skill and wide-ranging talent than the ones that had come prior. Their World Cup side of 1938 that managed to come in third place showed the world a prospectus of untold potential, and also their need to coalesce their vast soccer resources into a focused semblance of winning form. By 1950 World Cup, as hosts of the World Cup, Brazil was primed and received copious publicity as the widely advertised side ready to win the trophy. Brazil rampaged through the field scoring 21 in five games, and met in a unofficial "final" a nominally weaker Uruguayian team that has never suffered a loss in a World Cup match. Showed to a still-record audience of 199,850 in the world's largest and most futuristic Estádio do Maracanãmarker, occurred the most famous match played up to that time. Uruguayan steely determination and a late and arueably the most famous counter-attack in soccer history by Juan Schiaffino propelled Uruguay 2-1 again to the game's exalted height much to the national chagrin of a superior Brazil side.The 1954 Brazilian squad came with redoubled commitment and a strong will to unspell the trauma of the "Maracanazo" that still lingered with a team expressly rebuilt from the ground up aiming to be undoubtedly the world's foremost. South America's top team was at the door of greatness -- with a great dispensation of flowing cogent offensive and defensive power charting the way with a team at full evolution that knew the trade of the game every which way. The Seleção's theoretical team power rating of 2010 points reflected the advanced degree to which Brazil had progressed and rose above all in the tournament but one, namely Hungary. Widely interpreted to be the planet's No. 2 best team by most sports journalists covering the event it expemplified in archetypal form the elements of speed, physicality, and the joie de vivre of seductive passing and dribbling of superb Latin American football. A world famous Brazilian backfield was co-opted by the optimal defender Djalma Santos, perhaps greatest right back in the game's annals and colleague Nilton Santos -who formed strongest attacking fullback tandem in football history. Djalma Santos' virtues of a cool jockeying style was held in high esteem for the successful rate of his dispossessions, tackles and interceptions. Both would play 70 internationals together and gain two World Cup titles and earned enormous credit in barring access to an iron-clad defense around goal. The Seleção had at the heart of their array truly one of midfield's greatest figures, Didi, who after winning the 1958 World Cup would later wear the tag "world's best player", and around him were attached players of real talent.

The much fancied 1954 quarter-final between Brazil and Hungary was enthusiastically written about by the press covering the game as the "unofficial final" to explain the most winning expression of soccer between the greatest holders of the sport. For fans, organizers, and journalists alike the match's ascent and buildout, long in the making, had finally arrived. Captaincy for the game, with Puskas out injured, was conferred on József Bozsik, the era's most gifted midfielder; and the game's nonpareil winger, Zoltán Czibor spelled Puskas at inside-left.On June 27, 1954, even without Puskás, the Magical Magyars summoned capital effort and skill early on. After three minutes, Nándor Hidegkuti, received the ball from the left side of the penalty box. In a scramble for it, half the Brazilian team funneled to the area with the quickest of speed, there was pandemonium before Hidegkuti struck the ball with violence thru a wall of defenders and produced high emotion in the 60,000 who had gathered. Hidegkuti then lofted an arch from midfield and Kocsis outleapt tight marking to steer a long header into the net, 2-0 Hungary after just 7 minutes. The Seleção was ill at ease by the quick pace of the immediate two scores put upon them. Both teams sought in a battle of attrition to stem and hamper the other's advance through a policy that was available - abrasive hard fouling, more often than not of the cleats-first kind. Of the vast and unheard sum of 42 free kicks awarded, many challenges were respectless, some violently brutal that reminds one of the intense level with which the game was played. One of these, tripping of forward Indio in the penalty area was converted from the penalty spot by Djalma Santos, 2-1.

The second half saw the match turn into the worst kind of behavior ever seen. A 60th minute penalty taken by defender Mihály Lantos put the game at 3-1 and seemingly out of reach. Brazil did everything they could to keep within the match. Shortly afterwards, Julinho slalomed in to stroke a bending line drive, the ball rising into the top right corner of the net from the opposing side of the penalty box in one finest speculative goals seen at the tournament, 3-2. Bozsik, a deputy member in the Hungarian parliament, felt that he was tackled unfairly and retaliated by punching Nilton Santos and soon both were drawn into fisticuffs; and the police were called in to escort the two off. Brazil surged forward with the last store of energy they had remaining, but Didi hit the crossbar in what would be Brazil's last chance to draw level. Soon after, Djalma Santos put aside all ideas of playing soccer to chase Czibor about the field in fit of rage without consequential thought. In the final minute of the game, Sándor Kocsis was supplied with an aerial cross from Czibor from the flank, and headed home the final score, 4-2. The last moments of the game was little more than a running sparing match between the two great teams. Brazil forward Tozzi kicked Hungary's Gyula Lorant prior to the whistle and was genuflect on bended knees not to be sent off by referee, Arthur Ellis, who doled out the game's third red card. Brazil, un-believing they could be worsted in such a way were again foiled, their fans, photographers, trainers, reserve players and coaches invaded the field and the Swissmarker police seemed powerless to impose rule on the mass tumult and the many fights that followed. In the tunnel of the stadium, Brazilian players smashed the light bulbs leading to the Hungarian dressing rooms and ambushed the Magyars in their quarters where a melee in virtual darkness occurred, broken bottles and shoes were used a weapons.

Years later, the game's English referee, Ellis, commented, "I thought it was going to be the greatest game I ever saw. But it turned out to be a disgrace."

The infamous occasion of the "Battle of Berne" is still talked about today among the old timers in Hungary, with many expressing the view that this was the first "final" of the three that Hungary had to play at the 1954 World Cup. It has been put forward by many that the Magical Magyars had broken any early stranglehold of the World Cup by Brazil. Recognizing the enormous challenge that Brazil presented to world football in 1950, and 1954, had they prevailed in the "Battle of Berne" it is a matter of conjecture that they could have begun their procession of World Cup titles in 1954, added to those of 1958, 1962, and 1970.

"Greatest Game Ever Played"

In the early part of the 20th century, up to and including 1954, Uruguay dominated international soccer in South America. A nation of a mere three million was disproportionately per capita to population the most successful soccer nation in the world. Running in parallel with how football developed in Latin America, a sport institutionalized in society and its cultural life after pockets of British expatriates had exported the collegiate game all throughout the Anglosphere and beyond, Uruguay rapidly made itself known on the world stage before its larger neighbors could catch them, and was prominent in establishing South America as a coequal center of the game.

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"Miracle of Berne"

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The era of the Magical Magyars came to an end with the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. The team had been built around the successful Budapest Honvéd team that won the Hungarian League four times during the 1950s. In 1956 Honvéd entered the European Cup and in the first round they were drawn against Athletic Bilbao. Honvéd were on their way back from Bilbaomarker when revolution erupted back in Budapest. Several of the players including Zoltán Czibor, Sándor Kocsis and Ferenc Puskás subsequently stayed in Western Europe (mainly in the dictatorial Spainmarker) and never played for Hungary again.

Golden Team Alumni


  • World Record: (June 4 1950 to Feb 19 1956) 42 victories, 7 draws, 1 defeat ("Miracle of Berne") - 91.0% winning percentage ratio.
    • Team Record (June 4 1950 to July 3 1954) 32 game undefeated narrative, broken on June 14 2009 by Spain.
  • World Record: strongest theoretical power ever attained in the sport's history using the Elo rating system for national teams, 2166 points (set June 30 1954). This standout distinction yet stands unequalled. Brazil ranks No.2 behind Hungary with a theoretical power rating of 2153 points (set June 17 1962). Argentina set the third highest Elo rating of 2117 points on April 3 1957, followed by France (high: 2106 pts. Aug. 15 2001).
  • World Record: longest time undefeated in 20th and 21st Centuries: 4 years 1 month (June 4 1950 to July 4 1954).
  • World Record: most collaborative goals scored between two starting players (Ferenc Puskás & Sándor Kocsis) on same national side (159 goals).
  • World Record: Hungary manager Gusztáv Sebes holds the highest ratio of victories per game past 30 matches with 82.58% (49 wins, 11, draws, 6 defeats). Brazil legend Vicente Feola (1955-1966) owns the second highest with 81.25 (46 wins, 12 draws, 6 defeats).
  • World Cup Record: 5.4 goals-per-match in a single World Cup finals tournament.
  • World Cup Record: +17 goal differential in a single World Cup finals tournament.
  • World Cup Record: 2.2 goals-per-match average for individual goal scoring in a single World Cup finals tournament (Sándor Kocsis 11 goals in 5 games).
  • World Cup Record: highest margin of victory ever recorded in a World Cup finals tournament match ( Hungary 9, South Korea 0 - July 17 1954).
  • World Cup Precedent: first national team to defeat two-time and reigning World Cup champion Uruguay in a World Cup finals tournament (Hungary 4, Uruguay 2, semi-final — July 30 1954).
  • World Cup Precedent:Sándor Kocsis, first player to score 4 goals in a World Cup finals match (Hungary 8, West Germany 3 - July 20 1954).
  • National Record: Equalled highest margin of victory recorded by Hungarian national team (Hungary 12, Albania 0 - Sept. 23 1950).
  • Olympic Precedent: first national side from behind the Iron Curtain to win the men's Olympic football tournament (Hungary 2, Yugoslavia 0 Aug. 2 1952 Helsinki)
  • Precedent: first national side in the world to eclipse a 1888 Scottish record of being undefeated in 22 consecutive matches (32 games).
  • Precedent: first national side from outside the British Islesmarker to defeat England at home since the codification of association football in 1863, a span of 90 years (Hungary 6, England 3, see "Match of the Century" - Nov. 25 1953).
    • Hungary's 7-1 defeat of England in Budapestmarker the next year is still England's record defeat.
  • Precedent: first national side to defeat the Soviet Union at home (Hungary 1, Soviet Union 0 - Sept. 23 1956).
  • Precedent: first national team in history to simultaneously host the No.1 and No. 2 world record holders for most goals scored internationally (Ferenc Puskás 84 goals, Sándor Kocsis 75 goals) from May 11 1955 to October 14 1956.
  • Team Record vs. Elo Ranked Opponents: (June 4 1950 - Oct. 14 1956), vs. world Top-10 ranked opponents: 11 wins, 2 draws, 1 loss / vs. world Top 5 opponents: 4 wins, 0 draw, 1 loss.



Further reading

External links

Date Venue Opponents Score Comp Hungary scorers Attendance
1950-06-04 Warsawmarker Poland 5–2 Friendly Puskás (2), Szilágyi (3) 60,000
1950-09-24 Budapestmarker Albania 12–0 Friendly Puskás (4), Budai (3), Palotás (2), Kocsis (2) 38,000
1950-10-29 Budapestmarker Austria 4–3 Friendly Puskás (2), Szilágyi 45,000
1950-11-12 Sofiamarker Bulgaria 1–1 Friendly Szilágyi 35,000
1951-05-27 Budapestmarker Poland 6–0 Friendly Kocsis (2), Sándor, Puskás (2), Czibor 42,000
1951-10-14 Ostravamarker Czechoslovakia 2–1 Friendly Kocsis (2) 45,000
1951-11-18 Budapestmarker Finland 8–0 Friendly Hidegkuti (3), Kocsis (2), Czibor, Puskás (2) 40,000
1951-05-18 Budapestmarker East Germany 5–0 Friendly Hidegkuti (2), Szusza, Kocsis, Sándor 38,000
1952-06-15 Warsawmarker Poland 5–1 Friendly Kocsis (2), Puskás (2), Hidegkuti 50,000
1952-06-22 Helsinkimarker Finland 6–1 Friendly Puskás (2), Bozsik, Kocsis (3), Palotás 25,000
1952-07-15 Turkumarker Romania 2–1 1952 Olympics Czibor, Kocsis 14,000
1952-07-21 Helsinkimarker Italy 3–0 1952 Olympics Palotás (2), Kocsis 20,000
1952-07-24 Kotkamarker Turkey 7–1 1952 Olympics Palotás, Kocsis (2), Lantos, Puskás (2), Bozsik 20,000
1952-07-28 Helsinkimarker Sweden 6–0 1952 Olympics Puskás, Palotás, Lindh (o.g.), Kocsis (2), Hidegkuti 35,000
1952-08-02 Helsinkimarker Yugoslavia 2–0 1952 Olympics Puskás, Czibor 60,000
1952-09-20 Bernemarker Switzerland 4–2 Central European Cup Puskás (2), Kocsis, Hidegkuti 30,000
1952-10-19 Budapestmarker Czechoslovakia 5–0 Friendly Hidegkuti, Egresi, Kocsis (3) 48,000
1953-04-26 Budapestmarker Austria 1–1 Friendly Czibor 44,000
1952-05-17 Romemarker Italy 3–0 Central European Cup Hidegkuti, Puskás (2) 80,000
1953-07-05 Stockholmmarker Sweden 4–2 Friendly Puskás, Budai, Kocsis, Hidegkuti 40,000
1953-10-04 Sofiamarker Bulgaria 1–1 Friendly Szilágyi 45,000
1953-10-04 Praguemarker Czechoslovakia 5–1 Friendly Csordás (2), Hidegkuti, M. Tóth, Puskás 47,000
1953-10-11 Viennamarker Austria 3–2 Friendly Csordás, Hidegkuti (2) 65,000
1953-11-15 Budapestmarker Sweden 2–2 Friendly Palotás, Czibor 80,000
1953-11-25 Londonmarker England 6–3 Friendly (see England v Hungary ) Hidegkuti (3), Puskás (2), Bozsik 100,000
1954-02-12 Cairomarker Egypt 3–0 Friendly Puskás (2), Hidegkuti 28,000
1954-04-11 Viennamarker Austria 1–0 Friendly Happel (o.g.) 65,000
1954-05-23 Budapestmarker England 7–1 Friendly Lantos, Puskás (2), Kocsis (2), M. Tóth, Hidegkuti 92,000
1954-06-17 Zurich South Korea 9–0 1954 World Cup Puskás (2), Lantos, Kocsis (3), Czibor, Palotás (2) 18,000
1954-06-20 Baselmarker West Germany 8–3 1954 World Cup Kocsis (4), Puskás, Hidegkuti (2), J. Tóth 65,000
1954-06-27 Bernemarker Brazil 4–2 1954 World Cup Hidegkuti, Kocsis (2), Lantos 60,000
1954-06-30 Lausannemarker Uruguay 4–2 (a.e.t.) 1954 World Cup Czibor, Hidegkuti, Kocsis (2) 37,000

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